Lucidia City University

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Lucidia City sat comfortably a few miles in from the coast line. It was close enough that the fresh salty air would sometimes blanket the shining city with the smell of the sea. A scent that, for many, awakened an unconscious desire to pack up a picnic, some towels, and bathing suits and head for the coastline for the weekend. While others felt the cooling tones in the air wafting off of the water and settled into lounge chairs on the back patio and let the sun wash over them.

Nestled inside of Lucidia City was the aptly named LCU, Lucidia City University.

On the campus of the university the somewhat salty air and constant sunshine resulted in an atmosphere that was far more fun than academic. The sight of small study groups lounging in the shade of a tree was more common than a group of students in an empty classroom pouring over text books. Benches were always occupied by groups of students gossiping or locked in a discussion about what their professors had just unleashed on them.

The university was not unaware of this phenomenon and had constructed their facilities to utilize it. Hallways sported large floor to ceiling windows that allowed the vibrant blue sky and sun in as students walked from class to class, while the rooms themselves were constructed to keep that distraction away while teaching was in session. Great lecture halls may have had a massive skylight to flood the room with natural light, but it was never enough to distract the students or the faculty by fully showing off the world beyond.

At the conclusion of the previous semester, the staff would commonly be seen roaming those same hallways or reclining under the same shaded trees as the students. Prep time needed breaks after all, and the short amount of time between semesters to reset and re-prep for a new batch of students could not and should not be squandered. Neither should the good weather. Though for some of the staff, there was no sunshine to be had, their preparation time was taken up by a very different activity.

A not insignificant number of the staff were fully robotic, and spent the time without students locked away in Lucidia City University’s extensive robotics lab. Some of them were well aware of what they were, though they kept that fact a secret from everyone if at all possible, even other members of the staff that were robots. Others still were fully unaware of what they were, their programming keeping the mechanical core of their being a secret from their conscious mind. A complicated array of filters and overlays prevented them from seeing anything even vaguely mechanical.

From their perspective they were in a seminar on class preparation and a review of policy. In reality they might be in a dozen different parts, having repairs and upgrades applied to them. The process of spoofing memories for these sleeper style robots was simple. A pre-recorded set of instructions, log files, and video recordings had already been fabricated, and as part of their tune up process, the files were simply dropped into the correct file structure inside each android’s storage media. Once they were reactivated, their operation systems would simply recognize the new data and integrate it.

The fact that there was no easily identifiable way to recognize a robot from a human was the subject of some minor controversies over the years. As long as there was a being in the universe that wasn’t purely human, there would inevitably be some group of people that were fearful of it. Of course, none of the controversy really stuck. Students who applied to Lucidia City University fully understood that they would be mingling with a small population of androids, and there were a number of waivers, non-disclosure, and informed consent forms that were required.

Of course, the student body and staff didn’t know exactly who was an android, let alone how many among them were in that demographic. Most didn’t care, and those that did were more concerned about bragging rights to their friends and roommates about how good they were at spotting artificials. Most guessed that there was a population floating around one percent of students that were robotic, when in fact it was nearly two thirds of the entire population.

Lucidia City University was configured as a sort of social experiment with the parameters only vaguely defined for the general populace. The New Arcadian government had funded the project and set aside the land needed for the campus. Once settled, they had contracted with one of the foremost robotics manufacturers.

With governmental funding secured, The Starchild Corporation was able to manufacture and program a wide array of robots to start the initial population of the campus, though others from around the globe certainly added to the ranks. Starchild was the primary supplier of student androids. Many of which were configured to only bolster the population and gather information that would then be used to improve future programming and development.

Somewhere deep in the Starchild manufacturing facility Bethany was coming together. Though not all of her was manufactured in that specific facility, all of her parts came together there. The pre-assembled arms, legs, feet and hands arrived from one of the larger peripheral assembly sites located in another city. Many of her internal systems and the sleek brushed metal caring that covered them were shipped in from a mass electronics facility.

The intricate work on the multitude of micro circuit boards and the delicate work of lacing each fiber optic cable and wire into place had taken place in another automated facility. Her internal workings had arrived there and were assembled, wired, and tested before being packaged together into one bundle and sent to the primary assembly facility.

Bethany’s torso and head were assembled in the central facility. Her torso was little more than a framework for her internals to be attached to and a wrapper made of synthetic flesh and sensory mesh. Leaving a dangling spine and ribcage and some shaping plates dangling from a storage hook in the mail assembly space. The serial numbers printed on the inside of the framework indicated who she was and what shipments were tied to her assembly.

Once those parts arrived on an unassuming cargo truck, packed in multiple layers of anti-static and anti-shock foam they were scanned into an automated assembly line. Industrial arms descended on the collection of parts. Clamping onto various parts and inserting them into Bethanys’s body. More lithe and slim arms inserted themselves into her torso only to result in a brief flash of light as components were welded into place. WIth all hase they retreated and new arms, equipped with intricate finger-like appendages began to rapidly connect wires, cables, and tubes to their homes with the kind of precision that only a machine could offer.

A small fleet of sleek mechanical arms darted in and out of Bethany’s body for almost thirty minutes before the clamp holding her aloft moved forward. Arms and legs were moved into position while a number of smaller arms darted into the space between her hip and her legs and attached a number of components. Once done and still slightly glowing from the last flashes of a precise weld, her legs were slotted into place. At the same time, her shoulders were receiving the same treatment before being fully attached. Once done, the olive toned skin along her shoulders and hips seemed flawless.

Any highly trained roboticist could likely see the infinitely faint seam lines along the arm and leg connection, or the numerous other seams and panels along her body, but the untrained eye would simply see another exotic girl. Even with training, someone would have to be intimately close to Bethany’s body to even have a remote chance of seeing her for what she was.

Soon more components were added to her body. Controller boards to help load balance her core processor unit and assist with small things like balance, fluid movements, or in case of emergency, allowing the core processor to continue operating while not compromising her ability to move. Bethany’s torso was soon packed full of stand alone components, encased in their own self cooling and temperature regulated shells. Wires and cables were bundled together in black mesh tubes to keep them contained, though the sheer volume of cabling inside of her nearly drowned out the rest of her internal circuitry. Small controller boards and independent processors were attached to the internal framework and tucked away in every possible available space inside of her body.

A number of plates were secured over the internals inside of her, forming a rough body shape that was covered and protected by a hard plastic plate, but still left her flexible and remarkably human. She would remain as flexible as a human girl might be, while still remaining optimally covered internally. Once the plates were secured, a smooth belly panel, complete with a faux belly button were locked into place and sealed, once again perfectly hiding the seam lines that its presence created. Once in place, her chest was brought in. The panel itself was made of a single plate that locked into her chest, just below her skin. Attached to the single plate were the two breast panels, each one able to be independently swung open like cabinet doors, or removed as needed.

Bethany was all but completed now. Her head was brought in finally, attached to it’s own mechanical arm that was both clamped onto the small amount of neck that was attached to the bottom of it, as well as a plug inserted into the base of the skull. Power and data had been flowing through that small plug for the last several hours. The head itself had been in another clean room, simply powered on and being programmed with Bethany’s unique programming set, pre-existing memories, backstory, and a number of variables that could be used at any given moment.

She had been configured to believe she was one of the human students on campus. The daughter of a somewhat well off middle class family in Pacifica. She had been programmed to be a little more creative than your average android, and as a result she was enrolled in a number of creative arts classes at Lucidia University. Swirled into that same code base were a number of other variables and configurations that made her a wholly unique robot.

Her head was aligned with her neck connector and lowered gently into place, turned just past a forty five degree angle. Once the alignment posts inside of her neck slotted into the small neck stump on her torso, the clamp on her head swiftly turned sharply into a forward facing position. Once there, the automated locks engaged themselves. There was a brief and faint whirring sound, as if there were a high speed drill running inside of her neck. The alignment posts spun fast and locked into her body, securing her head to her neck fully.

Her operating system booted for the first time and took several long minutes to detect each of the new components that her body offered, then drivers were loaded and initial configuration checks run. Each system reported in and her operating system reported them as green, passing every test. More and more systems came online, all while Bethany’s eyes remained open and looking vaguely ahead until her final systems had come online. Once done her operating system took snapshots of each configuration and stored them in their own isolated storage drive and allowed her operating system to quickly access them and boot her up with the same kind of speed that a human would as if they were waking up from a full night's sleep.

A series of configuration scripts were added to her boot sequence as well. She would look a little dazed and yawn, acting as if she had just woken up from a nap every time her system needed to fully reboot. A process that would likely take place only at night and only if there were a real reason for it. She would mostly slip into a low power mode that she could wake up from rapidly.

Bethany was finally lowered to the ground, her bare feet gently taking on more and more of her own weight as her balance programming attuned itself to her body. While those processes were running hundreds of calculations over and over again, another part of her programming engaged and began rolling a random fashion style for her next stop on her first configuration. Around her there were several other androids finishing their configurations and walking mechanically to a large warehouse of clothes and garments and Bethany would be joining that stream soon.

Once her software had calibrated itself properly, Bethany took her first few steps forward with all the confidence of a young twenty something woman. She stepped into the clothing warehouse and easily picked out her clothes. Black lacy panties and a matching bra were the first to cover her body. Next a pair of acid washed and strategically torn jeans. They looked as if the slashes in the denim were put there intentionally by Bethany rather than some designer factory stressed piece. For a top, a brilliant pink tank top with a silver Batman symbol on a dark background nestled on the curve of her chest.

A pair of stylish and clean converse shoes finished the outfit. Bethany’s internal navigation system took over and marched her to the makeup and styling station where dozens of other androids were busily applying make up and hair styles. Bethany settled down and began to apply a base layer of foundation that matched her darker skin. Once done she applied a simple smear of dark eyeliner around her eyes and especially heavy just below her eyes. Once done her hands moved to her hair and expertly separated it out into three even chunks on one side and began to set it into a simple braid and repeated the same process on the other side of her head.

With that, she was completed, though she was not yet fully engaged. The complicated array of software, configuration files, and settings weren’t fully active, they couldn’t be. Once they were Bethany would act like she was a human, just another student attending college courses. When around other humans she would act the part perfectly. She would eat food, grumble about not getting enough sleep, and settle into bed at a reasonable hour. For now though, there was no need to bog down her processors with running additional software. There were nothing but machines here.

Still, there was a final step to be done.

Bethany smoothly walked out of the dressing room and followed a steady trickle of other robots. Their destination was the shipping and preparation wing of the factory. Once there she silently stepped into a large shipping container packed with form fitting foam that suited her body nearly perfectly. Once there, she powered off completely and a sturdy lid was clipped into place. Her crate, along with dozens more, were loaded onto the transport that would take them to the university.

Once the crate arrived, a number of staff members scanned it, entered her data into the campus database and began the process of unpacking her. She was placed in a waiting room, sitting quietly with other androids who had arrived from a variety of manufacturers. Men and women, different ethnicities, different programmed heritages, lives that didn't exist but would read as a history all pre-programmed into them.

Once every student was in place, all of them were activated at once. Their once closed eyes snapped open and they came online. The saved state of their human emulation booted in an instant and their once stoic and mechanical faces fell into a more natural expression. Bethany donned a small smirk, and her body slouched just a little in her chair. Her arms crossed just under her chest and her foot began to waggle back and forth in a seemingly anxious motion. All of it was merely a programmed response intended to sell the idea that she was organic.

She waited for another few minutes before her name was called and she was brought into a small cubicle with an admissions officer who went over her paperwork, syllabus, and her dorm assignments.

“So, since you're still a lower classman, you’re still required to be assigned a dorm mate at random.” Her admissions officer muttered. A bored looking upperclassman of some kind, probably a senior trying to get in the last of his credits by working the dull job of admissions.

Bethany let out a soft sigh. “I know, we went over this last year.”

The older student in front of her looked up at her. The paperwork clearly stated that she was an android, freshly assembled, and hadn’t been here last year. Though clearly her cover story demanded that she think she was. He had learned to roll with these kinds of twists and turns.

“Right, just gotta cover all the bases. Your course load looks to be pretty good, lots of visual arts and what not. Are you studying to be an artist or something?” He muttered, making idle chatter while he flipped through the pages and put his signature on a number of pages confirming that they had spoken.

“Yeah, creative arts, not sure what major just yet.” Bethany replied, visibly and audibly perking up at the opportunity to talk about one of her favorite subjects.

“Good stuff. Well, best of luck to you. Everything here looks to be in line. So, your dorm room is 14b, that’s in the Boatman building. Here’s a map and the key to your dorm. Looks like your dorm mate checked in earlier today, so she should be there already.”

Bethany nodded and scooped up the key, gathered the paperwork that she was handed, and left the office. She had hoped that she would have checked in before her dorm mate, not that there was any kind of issue, she just preferred to get first pick of the bedrooms in the dorm. She made her way across the campus, a small satchel with her belongings in it and her key in hand. She consulted the map a few times and made her way to the Boatman dorm building and walked up the steps to the second floor.

The hall was already crowded with a number of other students moving in. Bags and cardboard boxes filled with the meager amount of personal belongings everyone brought with them. Bethany had some as well, most of it was to sell her identity as a human and not a freshly assembled android. All of it had been manufactured alongside her and packaged in boxes that would be delivered later in the day. For now, she had one outfit, a few makeup items, and the paperwork she had just been handed.

She slid the key into the lock and had to work at it a little to get the teeth to catch properly inside of the tumbler, but eventually the lock gave and she was allowed to turn the door handle and enter her new home. She idly wondered why the pinnacle of technology, a college campus intentionally made to test androids in a real world setting, needed such archaic technology. Physical keys, hand turned door knobs, she couldn’t help but snort at it.

The entryway was relatively simple. A short hallway with coat hangers mounted to the sterile white wall. A small kitchen to her right, a living room in front of her. A pair of well used couches,and a coffee table were all that were provided. It would probably be more than enough for Bethany. As she stepped into that living room she found that there were two doors there, side by side and presumably leading to the bedrooms. One stood open, and the other closed.

“I guess that settles that.” Bethany poked her head into the room with an open door, finding only a dark room with a desk mounted to the wall, a simple bed, a free standing closet and a window. The same sterile white walls encased the room. She flicked on the light in the room which only resulted in a gentle hum and shadows to appear around the room as the single overhead light flooded the room with light that was far too bright.

Bethany didn’t even realize she was shading her eyes from the intense white light from the overhead light.

“New bulbs I think.”

The voice came from behind Bethany. It was deeper than her own, but only a little, not enough to be masculine for sure. More sultry than anything. There was a hint of an accent too, but it was only a ghost's whisper in her voice. A word or two sounded just a little off, just enough to let Bethany’s social construct matrix tag it as a piece of data for the new database entry that had just been created for this person.

Bethany spun around and was greeted by a smiling girl who couldn’t be any older than Bethany. Her hand was already extended.

“Evie Sisan. Guess you’re my roommate.”

Bethany took her hand and shook it with a small smirk “I think you mean you’re my roommate. I was here last year so I think I have squatters rights.”

The two laughed at that and Bethany got the distinct feeling that the pair would get along just fine. The day passed fairly uneventfully. Bethany’s belongings didn’t arrive until just before dinner, which was fine as it left Bethany plenty of time to go over the course load she had taken on. It also left plenty of time for Evie and Herself to sit in the living room and get to know one another.

Evie’s look seemed to be tangential to Bethany’s more punk-goth look. Her dark hair had a very prominent blue streak that coursed through it. Bethany found that no matter how often she looked at Evie’s hair there always seemed to be a hint of blue that was connected to that streak that would just appear out of nowhere. It wasn’t something magical, she knew, more a product of Evie’s hair flowing around her face.

A denim jacket with sleeves rolled up to her mid forearm hid a dark shirt with some kind of astronaut symbol on it. It was cute. Her loose fitting pants were stylish for sure, but Bethany could never see herself wearing them. They were far too baggy for her tastes, and she found herself warmly content in the form fitting jeans she wore.

The pair exchanged pleasantries and gave the briefest descriptions of where they had come from. Bethany was relatively brief in her description. She was programmed to give just enough details to satisfy the average appetite.

“Just a middle class girl from Pacifica who liked art enough to make it a habit and then a passion and then, foolishly, a career path. Which landed me here. The visual arts courses here are pretty top notch.” Bethany managed.

“Whoa, nice! Do you have a portfolio of your work or something?” Evie asked, her enthusiasm was a nice stroke against Bethany’s ego.

“Well, yeah, just not here. Not yet at least. Once my stuff gets delivered I can show you some stuff.”

“Heck yeah!” Evie confirmed.

“What about you?” Bethany asked, jabbing her chin towards Evie. “What’s your story?”

“Ah well, I’m from Velomis, over on Keldan.”

“That explains the accent.”

Evie chuckled a little. “Yeah sure does. I thought I had lost most of it by now, I guess there is still some lingering there. But just like you, a good family, two younger siblings. They encouraged me to get out there and see the world, so I decided to sign up for LCU and see if I could study abroad. You have a pretty good Multimedia Design course here, so I thought ‘why not?’ And now here I am.”

Bethany nodded along and smiled, feeling only a little pang of jealousy. Her own manufactured back story seemed bleak compared to Evie’s. Her artificial mind spun and whirled with the prospect of having siblings, and wondered how that might have worked with her being an android. Bethany thought it might be fun growing up with two other kids her own age and for a moment got lost spinning stories inside of her head about what it would be like.

She snapped back to reality in short order, there was no need to stare blankly off into space for too long. She needed to keep up appearances for Evie and really every other human on campus. So she smiled, nodded, and commented about how it must have been nice having siblings to play with as she grew up.

“Ha, they were both shit heads, but I can’t help but love ‘em.” Evie commented with a playful little laugh. “You never know how much you love and simultaneously hate someone until you have to share a closet space with them.”

Bethany giggled at that, realizing that being programmed as an only child meant that she never had to spin stories about what her and her siblings may or may not have done. Evie seemed to remember her siblings fondly though, so Bethany thought for a moment that she may simply have missed out. Then again, her entire childhood never existed outside of blocks of information and complicated databases.

A knock on the door drew the attention of both girls. Bethany managed to rise first and opened the door to find only a man standing before her, a hand truck laden with uniform looking cardboard boxes and a tablet on top.

“Bethany Sinclair?”

“Yep, that’s me.” Bethany replied.

“Thumb print here.” He tapped on the tablet and it woke up, glowing dimly with an extra large designated square and deep bold lettering indicating that she should verify her identity there.

Being a robotic girl, Bethany had no thumbprint history, so she pressed her thumb against the tablet and activated the short range wireless identity chip inside of her wrist. The tablet was, of course, looking for all forms of identity and registered the covert signal and confirmed who she was. The delivery man scooped up the tablet with little fanfare, then rocked the boxes forward enough to dislodge his hand truck, nodded to Bethany once, then strolled away. Bethany watched him for only a second, blinking with some kind of emotional response.

Was she annoyed? He had just left a stack of boxes in the middle of the hall. Was it more of a confused misunderstanding of what his duties were, she certainly would have liked to have that hand truck to drag in the boxes. In the end though, her CPU determined that it was a mix of emotional responses that she was experiencing. Annoyed that he had left without a goodbye or anything, frustrated that she had to drag her own belongings into her dorm and even that was only one step, she needed to get them into her room. The daunting feeling of unpacking and seeing what, exactly, she had been sent.

All of it culminated in a soft, resigned sigh.

“Want a hand?” Evie offered and caused Bethany to smile. Any negative emotional responses she had been processing seemed to be swept away in a tidal wave of kindness from her new room mate.

“Yeah, that’d be great. Grab a box!”

It only took a few minutes. Bethany found that there were more boxes than she had thought, but they were all prepared for her by Starchild and were tailored to her. So whatever was inside must be important to her identity. The challenge would be making it seem like this was all hers to Evie, who was busy dragging a particularly heavy box into the room and left it dominating the center of the room.

“Jeez, what’s in there?” Evie asked.

“My prized engine block, ofcourse.” Bethany hoped that the outlandish joke would dissuade more questions. Bethany should know what was in there, if she had packed it, which she hadn’t

Evie laughed at that and returned to the front door with Bethany to haul in the last of her boxes and deposit them in her room. Bethany glanced at her internal clock and found that the day was getting late. There would be a need to put on a show that she needed food and other human necessities.

“Welp, I think I’m going to grab some food and then, I guess, tackle this nightmare when I get back.”

Evie nodded and looked at the boxes that dominated most of the space in Bethany’s room.

“You’ve got your work cut out for you. Admittedly, I haven’t fully unpacked myself, so you’ll excuse me for not joining you for dinner, but I have plenty of work to do myself!”

Bethany nodded and gave her a thumbs up before retrieving her satchel, slinging it over her shoulder and slipping out of the dorm. She made her way out of the, somehow, even more crowded hallways. Apparently her boxes of belongings were not the only delivery that had been made that night. Once outside of the dorm, she wandered off towards the campus cafeteria, though she had no intentions of going inside. She needed to at least look like she was moving towards food in case Evie was watching her.

Instead of eating food, she simply strolled around the campus, taking in the sights and familiarizing herself with her surroundings. She needed to be able to talk as if she had spent a year here already. It took almost an hour to wander around and get a cursory understanding about the campus, then wandered back to her dorm.

Once there, Bethany found the small apartment-like dorm to be dark, though there was a faint glow coming from around the door to Evie’s room. A faint flickering brightened the glow from time to time, but that could have been from her computer playing a movie. Bethany figured she would give her new roommate her own space, clearly she wanted to be left alone with the door shut, and Bethany had plenty to do as it was. She blew a long concentrated breath out her mouth as she surveyed the multitude of boxes in her room, rolled up her metaphorical sleeves, and got to work unpacking.

The weeks slipped past with more ease than Bethany realized. Her and Evie had fallen into a comfortable routine revolving around one another. Evie’s classes started a full hour before Bethany’s, leaving Bethany alone in the dorm for a short amount of time in the morning, and in return left Evie alone in the afternoon for a bit.

The two girls got along with one another well enough. Conversations were almost always initiated by Evie who was insatiably curious and seemed to genuinely delight in getting to know Bethany. All of which seemed to put Bethany’s generative capabilities to the test. Evie was so insatiably curious that she wanted to know everything that Bethany had done and in turn, Bethany’s CPU and programming made good use of the multiple variable configurations she had installed to generate those answers. Evie always seemed happy and satisfied with the answers, leading to new data points in Bethany that her programming was working as expected.

Bethany was curious as well, though not quite on par with Evie. She wanted to know what Evie’s home was like as she had never been there and knew relatively little about geography and other cultures. Evie was more than happy to spin tales and chatter on for hours, it seemed, about every little thing. The two would spend more than a few evenings curled up on the couches in their living room, some form of dinner in hand, and simply talk.

Other nights Evie seemed to disappear into her room, the flickering of light from under her door was the only indication that there was an occupant in there. Bethany thought little of it, afterall she was no stranger to spending hours and all nighters studying and doing classwork. Some nights Evie didn’t come home until well after Bethany had locked herself in her room and plugged herself into a self service unit for recharging and to offload the days worth of data she had collected. She was still online and heard Evie quietly slip in, the door handle with its ancient key lock giving away her presence every time.

“You know, you might as well just leave the door unlocked when you’re going to be out late.” Bethany mentioned the day after one particularly late arrival.

“Wh- huh?” Evie replied as she stuffed her bag full of classwork.

“I heard the lock last night when you came home at like, midnight. I don’t care if you’re out partying, but just leave the door unlocked, it’s all good.”

At this Evie seemed more than a little embarrassed. Her face flushed red and she avoided eye contact with Bethany.

“Sorry about that, I’ll figure something out instead. Sorry.”

Bethany could only laugh. “I’m not mad or anything. Just trying to make your life easier.”

Evie nodded. “Still, sorry for waking you up.”

Bethany smirked a little at that. She hadn’t been asleep, she never had been, but Evie didn’t need to know that about her.

“I’ll climb in the window next time.” Evie said with a small giggle and a wink at Bethany.

With that, Evie slung her back over her shoulder, waved goodbye, and slipped out the door but not before locking it and winking at Bethany again.

Another evening alone in the dorm. Evie had at least texted and said she was going to be out late with some friends and wouldn’t be home until late. Bethany smirked to herself and commented that she would do her best to ignore the sound of a crappy old lock.

In reality, Bethany was thankful for a quiet evening to herself. She had been operating smoothly on campus so far, confident that she had evaded detection as an android to everyone, even her overly extroverted roommate. Still, there were a series of reports that her system generated about the state of her internal workings. There was nothing wrong with them per se, but some fine tuning and adjustment was necessary after assembly. She could have easily requested that they be reconfigured by some of the technical staff on campus and then discreetly walked into one of the numerous hidden repair facilities, but Bethany was a more “do it yourself” kind of girl.

She had the tools for the adjustments, and enough technical know how on her own systems to do the majority of the work herself. All she needed was a quiet evening to herself where she was sure there would be no awkward interruptions, and tonight looked to be that night.

Bethany finished her studies and homework, cleaned up the dorm a little, and made sure that everything looked to be in order. The last thing she needed was for Evie to come home and find something out of place and prompt her to barge in on Bethany.

With the dorm in order, her room locked, and a number of internal systems humming in synch, Bethany was ready to begin.

She pulled her form fitting shirt off and tossed it onto her unmade bed, followed shortly by her bra. She let out a small, soft sigh as she did so as her body’s balance programming readjusted itself as her breasts were freed and subtly shifted the weight distribution on her body. Her tight, ripped jeans soon joined her shirt and a pair of panties topped the whole pile.

Bethany’s synthetic skin tingled with data as the cool evening air washed over her naked body. In return her whole body reacted, sending a ripple of goosebumps over her skin and puckering her nipples. All of it lasted for just a moment before her internal temperature balancing protocols took over and she settled back into a more normal state.

She opened the freestanding cabinet that usually housed her clothes, and dug to the back, pulling out a mid-sized box, locked with a padlock which opened only when Bethany wirelessly connected to the small chip inside of it rather than using a conventional key. Just another layer of protection. With the lock opened, she pulled out a chrome plated base with a circular rise in the middle of it. A coil of thick black cables extended from one side of the base. The heavy piece of equipment was brought to her desk where Bethany unraveled the cables and plugged them into her laptop, and another into a wall outlet.

With everything in place, Bethany settled down into the chair, sitting up straight with proper posture. She pulled open the drawer on her desk and shuffled away some of the papers and notebooks there to reveal a small tool kit. She unzipped it and opened it to reveal a number of highly specific tools along with a standard array of screwdrivers and pliers. To any other person it would look like the kind of kit someone would use to work on computers, and that assumption wasn’t too far from the truth.

She plucked a tool from the case, a plastic handle with a thin rod on the end of it that served as a base for a needle that jutted from the end. Bethany moved with the kind of precision that only a machine could. Turning her head and sweeping her braided ponytail over her shoulder and out of the way, she lined up the sharp end of the needle with a pinprick hole just behind her jaw. Sliding the tool into that space resulted in a physical internal button being pressed. Once she was alerted that it had been pressed she swapped the tool to her other hand and repeated the movement behind her jaw again.

The robotic girls operating system validated that the physical locks on her head had been disengaged. A command was sent to the connection joint in her neck, and with a small, almost imperceptible whirring, the locking mechanisms in the base of her neck unlocked themselves. Bethany had already set aside the tool and now her hands were on the side of her head, lifting smoothly upwards.

Her head came off of her shoulders, trailing her slender, feminine neck with it. At the base of her neck, shrouded by a layer of synthetic skin, was a chrome disk with three posts jutting out. Each one was lined with gold plated connection points and ending in a locking mechanism that would turn and clamp onto a matching lock inside of her toros. At the core of her neck were rubber gaskets that would line up perfectly with a matching tube inside of the small amount of her neck that remained perched on top of her shoulders. Food, drink, and fresh air could easily and safely pass into her body and into the storage tank there.

It took little effort to lean slightly forward and lock her head into the round podium on her desk. The weighted base offered proper stability and the data and power connections reactivated Bethany's detached head. Once it came back online it automatically established a short range wireless connection to her body and soon visual data began flowing again.

Her head was facing the wall, looking away from her body. With deft hands, she took hold of her head and turned it, allowing the bearings inside the base of the podium to smoothly rotate the head module until Bethany’s eyes were looking directly at her naked, headless body. But that was only the beginning of the evening’s maintenance.

She connected to the laptop and began a routine series of software and firmware updates. Those could easily run in the background while she did the physical work of tuning her internal mechanisms. She would be prompted for a restart when they were done, a process she could delay until it was time to lay down and “sleep” for the evening.

Once the update process had started, Bethany returned her attention to her headless body. For security reasons, every single access port and panel had a physical lock to undo it. If someone happened to hack into her systems whoever controlled her would also have to know how to open her in order to gain more access to the crucially sensitive data. So when Bethany commanded her body to open her chest panel, instead of an easily executed command to release the locas along her torso, her arms and hands began to move with a smooth, deliberate motion.

The needle tipped tool she had used earlier was clipped back into her kit and another, similar tool was pulled out. This one was more simple, just a long, stainless steel rod on a handle. The tip was sloped to a rounded point, but that wasn’t the part Bethany needed. The whole thing was easily four inches long and her hands deftly moved the tool into position above her headless neck. As her body moved, Bethany’s face remained passive, donning a mask of neutral blankness. Only her eyes moved and even then it was only the smallest motion.

She lined up the tool with a single small opening in her neck, just in front of the connector to her spinal column, but just behind the artificial throat. The tool slipped deep inside of the opening and another physical button was pressed. Bethany quickly retracted the tool and placed it back into the tool kit. While she moved her chest vibrated slightly with the same buzzing whir that her head and neck had done. The locks inside of her were spinning and disengaging themselves, unsealing her torso.

Once the locks had finished, her chest split in half and sprang forward just enough for Bethany to squeeze her fingers into the opening that had been created between her breasts. Both halves of the chest and belly panel swung open like a pair of cabinet doors, but they were in the way. For a maintenance technician this might be more convenient, but Bethany was doing all the work herself, so the panels needed to be removed.

She left one half of her chest closed, letting her eyes flick to the other side and begin streaming information over the wireless connection to hee body. She could only use one hand, since her other was blocked by the open chest plate, but that was all that was needed. There were only a few hinged clamps along the rim of her open chest and abdomen, and as she pinched the releases on each of the hinges her other hand was there to help brace the weight until they were all unlocked. Once done, she simply pulled the entirety of the panel off of her body and set it on the ground, leaning up against the leg of her desk. Soon the other side of her chest panel was removed and joined the first one, leaving her torso completely exposed.

Set inside of Bethany’s torso, just below the skin, was another protective plate. It had been molded to resemble a human woman’s rib cage, though reinforced with hardened plastics and metal alloys to lend it strength. This particular plate was a little easier for her to remove, and didn’t require any specialized tools to undo the locks. Instead she ran her hand up and under the cage itself and found the physical locs on either side of her body and undid them, leaving the plate free to be removed.

Once it had been, Bethany finally had access to the systems she was seeking to modify tonight. The plate had been covering and protecting a good number of her more sensitive internal systems, many of which were still gently humming away. Small circuit boards had been clipped and fastened to a number of points along her internal framework and connected to one another by tightly wrapped cables. Fiber optic wires formed a highway of flowing data and converged into one spot in her upper chest, one of her central processing units. From there another thick bundle could be seen running up and into her throat and disappearing behind a layer of artificial flesh.

The mechanical pumping system that was closely equated with a set of lungs was hissing and pulling in air from the exposed stump on top of Bethany’s neck. Gently whirring and distributing the fresh air over a set of cooling fins that dispersed the heat. Along each and every component were status lights, each one winking and flashing in their own little world. Some showed red, indicating that they were exposed to the open air and thus operating at a reduced efficiency for now. Others pulsed green and blue, illuminating the white stenciling along the silicon circuit boards they were etched on.

Bethany had gotten a report from her systems that there was a cooling fan that was acting up a little. It was nothing that was going to impact her performance, at least not right away, but it was something she wanted to inspect and rectify before settling into a routine. Her eyes blankly flicked over her internal systems, analyzing and finding the component she needed to adjust. It was in her lower abdomen, just above her pelvis. The blades on the dull matte gray fan were spinning, though there was a bit of a stutter to the motion.

Bethany reached into her own body, fingers touching the cool metal of her core skeletal structure and sliding along until they came to the mounting clips for the fan. With a simple pinch they were disconnected along with the power and data cables that connected it to the rest of her systems. Tugging it free she held it out in front of her, allowing her high definition optics to roam over every small part of the fan assembly before gently grunting to no one in particular.

The fan itself was damaged, likely a fault that the factory that assembled her wouldn’t have noticed unless the fan itself had run for long enough for the minute wobble to fully take hold. With barely a thought she made a note of it and sent a request to her manufacturer for a replacement fan, declining the white glove install option and set about seating the fan back in place. After all, a defective but working fan was better than none at all.

With the major concern out of the way, she set about working on some of the optional configurations. Her eyes roamed over her naked body, finding the subsystem inside of her robotic body that needed tuning. A motor control system that was lagging just a little, resulting in Bethany appearing to be just a little clumsy. She had, more than once, accidentally tripped over her own two feet as her operating system registered that her legs were in one position when they were off just a little. The controller board was nestled to the left side of her chest, just next to her CPU core. Reaching into her body again she detached the component and was immediately assaulted by a number of pop up warnings in her field of vision, all of which needed to be manually closed. She let out a small sound from the speaker assembly in her throat, sounding miffed at the sudden flurry of warnings. She knew her motor controls would be significantly diminished after removing one of the motor control components. She sighed, being a robot was amazing in almost every way except that her underlying OS was so literal and executed everything, even the obnoxious things, every time.

With a better look at the controller module, Bethany could see that there were some adjustments that could be made, beyond just the software updates to it. Many of the systems relied on a physical feedback system. The gyroscope inside of the controller board was intended to be leveled and help her coordinate balance, but as she examined it she saw that one of the four adjustable screws was off by just enough to tilt the gyroscope by a degree or two.

Bethany plucked a precision screwdriver from the tool kit and gently placed it into one of the alignment screws and began to turn it slowly. It took her a little work to adjust it correctly, first turning it too far and causing her operating system to register a skewed balance in the opposite direction. She turned the screw back into place and felt better, but still a little off. She saw that adjusting one screw screwed her balance differently and ended up adjusting all three of the other screws in order to compensate. Eventually it was perfect and Bethany reached back into her opened chest cavity and clipped it back into place, ensuring that no cables were trapped by it.

After that she scooted her body as close as she could to the desk and dragged the weighted podium close to her body so that her disconnected head could closely examine everything else. If she was going to take the time to open herself up, she might as well give everything a once over. More than once she reached inside of herself to tug gently on a part of a system to make sure it was firmly clipped in place. Other times she simply tucked a bundle of wires back into the small hooks on her body if they had slipped out and dangled inside of her.

Once she was satisfied with her work she reinserted the rib cage like plate and locked it, followed by her two chest panels. Closing them and pressing firmly inward so that they automatic sealant systems could once again make her torso airtight. Next she had work to do on her hands, but her head need not be disconnected for that.

Bethany checked her software updates and found that they were almost done, floating somewhere around eighty percent complete. So, her hands fell to her lap, resting there until the updates were done. She sat perfectly still, her posture impeccable and her body perfectly still. None of the small sways of fidgets that a normal human woman might do were present, there was no need, she was purely mechanical here. Not even her face changed from the blank stare it had been masked with this whole time. She didn’t blink, she didn’t breathe. There was no need to after all.

Finally the update was done and her body reacted immediately, picking up her head and deftly lining it up with the mounting points along her neck. She slotted the cranium module into place and held firmly as the locking mechanisms whirred loudly until they were latched and her operating system recognized the device. Once done, the wireless connection was severed, and the physical connection established. She shook her head slightly once as if she were shaking off some lingering bit of discomfort and then looked down at her wrists.

The articulating motors in her wrist had been off too, ever so slightly, and had caused a bit of a stutter in her movements. It wasn’t something that anyone else would notice, but she noticed. More than just the reporting and log files from her operating system, it felt wrong. She laid her arm on the table so that it was on a firm, flat surface and pulled out the needle tipped tool once again.

Bethany inserted the tool into her wrist, into something as small as a single pore and pressed into the manual release button there. A small panel on the underside of her arm disengaged the electromagnetic locks. It was spring loaded and now that it was no longer locked, it sprang open just a fraction of an inch, but it was enough for Bethany to slide her finger nail into the gap and flip the flexible panel open.

Inside of the panel was another hard plastic plate that protected Bethany’s internal workings. She needed the small screwdriver from her self service kit which was hidden behind a number of notebooks and papers in her desk drawer. She pulled it out and got to work undoing the small screws and exposing more of her robotic arm.

Below the plate was a tangle of wires that had been bundled together into a mesh casing to keep them tidy. That same mesh had been fastened to a number of purpose built clasps along her framework. From time to time a single fine wire would deviate from the mesh only to plug directly into some component or circuit board inside of her arm. What she was looking for, though, wasn’t wiring. Rather, she was looking for the mechanism that controlled how articulate her fingers were.

A bank of solenoids controlled the primary movement in her fingers. Tiny servos and motors would control the finer movements in her fingertips and knuckles, but those weren’t an issue. Her fingers in general were off by just a little bit. Drawing out another flat headed screwdriver she set the blade end of it into one of the manual adjustment screws and began to turn it with caution. Each small twist warranted her flexing and moving her fingers, watching as the solenoids engaged and the mechanisms inside her exposed wrist move and click quietly.

Bethany was thankful that as part of the experimental social construct group she had some programming revolving around repairs, limited though it might be, it was invaluable. She could maintain and adjust most of her own components with relative ease, though she didn’t understand her more complex components, she could do some small things. After a half an hour or so of fine tuning her hand it was just where she wanted it to be, another twenty minutes later her other hand was in compliance as well. She had only just barely closed and resealed the panel across her wrist and stored the tools when she heard some kind of noise.

It was something like a small yelp, then a clatter, and a dull thump. Bethany dashed out of her room, thinking that Evie had maybe come home drunk from a party and tripped, but that wasn’t quite right, the sound appeared to come from outside. Bethany poked her head out of her door and looked around. Evie was nowhere to be seen, though there was a light on in her room, the usual occasional flickers of light, but nothing else.

Bethany darted back into her room and looked out of her window, glancing around the dim outdoors, struggling a bit to see anything useful as the sun had already set and the limited amount of street lights did little to help illuminate the area.

There was certainly something, or rather someone, in the foliage outside, just below Evie’s window. The small flashes of light made Bethany think that whoever was there was looking around for something with a flashlight and the somewhat frantic and jolting movements only confirmed that theory to bethany.

Sliding open her window she called out to whoever was there.

“Hey, you okay down there?”

The movement seemed to stop for only a brief moment, the movement of the light never did. Then a familiar voice replied, it was Evie herself.

“Beth? That you?”

“Evie, what the hell are you doing?”

“Can..can you come help me?”

There was a quality to Evie’s voice. It was a strange combination of fear, embarrassment, and a dash of desperation. Bethany called down that she would be right out and turned back to her room. She quickly threw on her shirt and jeans and then slipped into her shoes, not even bothering with undergarments or even to bother tying her shoes.

She ran down the stairs as quickly as she could without compromising balance, she almost regretted not taking the time to tie her shoes properly. A few moments later though, it didn't matter, as she crashed into the back door to the Boatman building and began to quick step around the building. She was orienting herself to where the dorms were, peering up and down trying to find either Evie or evidence that she was outside of their dorm.

The random and rapid flashes of light gave away Evie’s location as soon as Bethany turned another corner. Nestled in a small nook on the far side of the building. In a small outcropping of decorative bushes lay Evie. As Bethany jogged up to find her, she also found that her legs seemed to be twisted oddly, inhumanly. They were certainly broken, and Bethany gasped, covering her mouth and looking on in wide eyed shock. All of it was a pre-programmed response to this kind of thing, and it was cached and executed long before Bethany’s complex optics fully took in and analyzed what she was seeing.

Evie’s legs were broken, that much was certain. Bethany crouched down and looked at Evie, trying to capture her attention and keep her calm. Evie’s eyes were unfocused and seemed to be roaming around in their sockets. Not just roaming, but it seemed like they were flicking back and forth as if she were reading something. Bethany was cradling her head in her hands and looking around to see if there was anyone who could help, but it was deep into the night, well past campus curfew.

The sound of a muffled pop brought Bethany back to Evie. It sounded like someone had just burst a balloon on the other side of a wall or in a different room. It was all at once distant but so very close. Bethany looked down at her roommate and saw that Evie’s eyes were no longer rolling in their sockets and had, instead, locked onto Bethany.

“Hey Be-Bethanyyyyyyyyy.” Evie’s voice dipped low and trailed off for a moment. “I’m pre-pretty messed up here- here- heeere- error detected at line- at line- truncating program.”

There was another distant sounding pop, though now Bethany knew exactly where it was coming from.

“This. Unit. Requires. Immediate. Service. Please. Contact. Contact. -tact. -tact.”


“Cccccoooooonnnnnnttttaaaaccctttt…” The android cradled in Bethany’s arms had trailed off. The light seemed to face from her eyes as they became unfocused and distant. They were no longer looking at Bethany, rather, they were focused on something a thousand miles beyond her.

Bethany struggled for a moment. Evie was an android? Clearly she was, and Bethany had always known that was a possibility. But…she seemed so human. Was that how other people saw Bethany? Human, with a possibility of being a robot?

There would be time to contemplate that later. For now, she needed to get Evie back inside and see if she could do anything to get her back online and maybe even repair her.

Bethany scooped up Evie and cradled her in her own arms, only to find that as she was lifted from the ground one of Evie’s legs remained on the ground, while the other dangled precariously from the knee. Bethany saw the leg and simply kicked it back into the bushes for the time being, she would have to come back and get it as soon as Evie was in the dorm.

Bethany peered into the window on the door at the back entrance to the dorm, and as expected, it was empty. She pushed open the door and began to dash as quickly as she could up the stairs. The long empty hallway let Bethany slip into their dorm with ease and Bethany thanked her lucky stars that there were no late night frat boys trying to score a booty call with someone on the floor.

She settled Evie down onto the couch in the living room and stood back for a moment, making sure the deactivated android was secure and then darted back to the door. Hustling down the stairs and back out to the night air. She froze for a moment as a pair of flashlights could be seen strolling along the sidewalk. They were sweeping their beams over the side of the building, clearly looking for something, but not finding it. They were some of the supervisors who patrolled the campus at night and, Bethany gathered, they were looking for Evie. She knew that her own systems were equipped with an alarm that would transmit a distress signal if she were ever in dire need of it; there was no reason to believe that Evie was any different.

Bethany would never be sure why she didn’t simply flag down the supervisors and tell them where Evie was. Maybe it was because she wasn’t supposed to know what Evie was. She would later figure it out. There was a non-zero chance that a supervisor was a human, and any robotic student that revealed they were an android to a supervisor would have their memory wiped and potentially face expulsion and disassembly.

Bethany liked Evie far too much to risk that.

She waited until they had left, then waited just a little longer before darting to the bush and rummaging around for Evie’s broken leg. She managed to find it and then returned to her dorm room as quickly and quietly as possible, all while carrying a clearly robotic leg, dangling a number of shredded cables and a snapped central support.

Bethany settled down on the floor next to where Evie lay on the couch. She let out a small huff, more of a release of the tension she felt skulking around in the dark then anything.

“So you’re an android too.” Bethany muttered to an empty room while looking at Evie. “Me too.”

Evie was fully offline at this point and Bethany knew it, she felt no risk in saying what she was. She looked down at Evie’s broken leg and knew there would be no possible way for her to repair this. Evie would definitely need to be serviced by her manufacturer. The only trick was figuring out how to alert the technical support crew without overly letting them know that Evie was a robot, or worse yet that she herself was one. If a service ticket came in, then so be it, but Bethany couldn’t just call up tech support and tell them she knew her roommate was a robot, that would violate a number of protocols.

However, if Bethany could get Evie working just enough for the automated help response to trigger…

Bethany sprang to her feet and moved to her room, digging out her tool kit and the weighted podium before her own synthetic mind caught up with her. These were her tools and her mounting station. They were meant to work with her systems. But if Evie was an android too, then she surely had something similar.

Bethany had to fish the keys to her room out of Evie’s pants, but when she got in she was greeted to exactly what she expected. Posters plastered on the walls of bands she enjoyed, clothes scattered around the room, and things looking like a young adult's first dorm away from home. Action figures, collectable toys and an assembly of legos occupied most of the available shelving. It was a very human looking room, a stark change from Bethany’s well organized and tidy space. Maybe there was a thing or two to learn from this.

Bethany scrambled around the space, looking for something like what she had, and eventually found it. Stuffed in a simple box under the bed, was a tool kit, some spare wires and components and something similar to Bethany’s head mount.

Bethany settled back onto the floor next to Evie and looked her over. She was in rough shape. Not only were both her legs broken, presumably in multiple places, but she had hit her head pretty hard on impact. The dark hair on her head was a mess and the trademark blue streak was disastrously tangled into her hair. All of it matted against her face. Worse though, was the back of her head, which looked like it had slammed hard into the ground and shattered a good amount of Evie’s skull casing.

As Bethany examined her head, looking for some way to detach it, she found that her artificial scalp was, in some places, the only thing holding her head together. Soon though, Bethany did find a manual release for Evie’s head module. It took a little work to wiggle the head off of the bent and twisted neck mount, and Bethany knew that the repairs were going to take far longer than just an overnight limb swap.

Still, she did her best to slot Evie’s head onto her own maintenance stand and plugged it in. It was crooked, but there were enough connection points along the bottom of Evie’s detached head to make a solid enough connection to the podium. Thankfully the power conduit was firmly connected and allowed Evie’s head module to begin booting, though it would be riddled with errors and warnings as it started, not the least of which were a number of alerts that the majority of her body wasn’t available.

After several long minutes of silence, but frenzied activity in her eyes, Evie finally began booting into something that resembled her human emulation. Limited though it might be due to a lack of connectivity with her core programming set inside of her body’s storage media systems. She blinked a few times and finally looked over at Bethany and flashed an embarrassed smile.

“Hey Beth.” She smiled sheepishly. “Thanks for getting me back inside.”

Bethany chuckled. “”Of course, I couldn’t leave a friend offline and tangled in the bushes.”

Evie smiled at that, or at least tried to. The mechanisms inside of her faceplate were clearly suffering from some of the damage to her head. Her mouth quirked up at one side while the other side simply twitched as a strained buzz issued from inside of her.

“So. I guess this is probably a shock to you huh?” Evie commented quietly.

“A little, yeah. You came across as really well programmed. No hints of what you really were.”

“That’ll be good feedback- back for when I’m diiiiiiisassembled.” Evie said with a hint of sadness nestled among the brief bursts of static.

“Why would they take you apart and not just repair you?” Bethany asked.

“Protocol.” Evie said bluntly. “It’s in the handbook that androids are given. Revealing that I’m a robot to a human student or staff member usually results in a memory wipe and placement in another campus. But I’m so ba-baaaang banged up that I’ll be scrapped and simply replaced with another unit. Another unit. Another. Unit.”

Bethany laughed at that, a sweet and refreshing sound to the struggling audio receptors inside of Evie’s ears.

“If only I were a human.” Bethany replied.

Evie was clearly struggling to look shocked, one of her eyelids was fluttering and her brow was simply not reacting at all, though her mouth hung open.

“Bu- but you were. But you were so. Acting so, but you were, acting, so but you were human acting so.”

“Quiet. You’re a real mess. Don’t try and process too much or you’re going to blow a CPU out the back of your head.”

Evie quieted at that.

“Listen. If I can get your body back online then there should be some kind of automated emergency response..thing..right?” Bethany asked and Evie’s head nodded up and down, unstable, but clear in her answer.

“Ok, so, you tell me how to get inside of you, I can figure something out, and then you send the request. After that, I just go to bed and let the supervisors take you and no one has to know that either of us revealed who or what we are to one another.”

A few blinks later, Evie responded. “That’s- That’s kind of a genius plan. If you can reconnect my head to my body I can even modify the log files a bit to edit out the part where you brought me inside.” Evie’s voice warbled.


The process of actually opening Evie’s torso was not so dissimilar to the process that Bethany had used that same night. At Evie’s somewhat reluctant request, it started by taking off her top and bra and tossing them onto one of the chairs in the eating nook. The manual locks were not located inside of Evie’s neck, rather a pinpoint hole in her back that led deep inside of her torso. Still, with the locks disengaged she was able to pull off Evie’s chest plate. Once removed, a glimmer of recognition sparked in Bethany’s eyes as she took in Evie’s internal structure.

There were differences to be sure. It was clear that Evie had been manufactured by someone other than Starchild, and the presence of the Astirius logo on some of the plating confirmed that. Materials were different from her own construction, and some components were settled into different places inside of her, but for the most part those same components were similar if not identical to the ones inside of Bethany. Even the hard plastic rib cage plating was the same and disconnected the same way Bethany’s did. Setting it aside and exposing more of the wiring and actual internal workings inside of Evie only revealed how similar the two robotic girls were to one another.

As Bethany let her optics scan over Evie’s internal structure she idly thought that the two could practically be sisters with how similar their construction was. As such it took little time to locate Evie’s internal power supply. Thankfully the majority of the damage had been done to Evie’s legs, which Bethany attempted to not look at. The tangled mass of wires, shattered bone-like internal structure, and twisted and torn synthetic flesh was a sight she’d rather not dwell on.

There were components inside of Evie that had suffered some small amount of damage though. There were a few components that had been torn from mounting brackets or clips only to stretch the wiring connected to them to the breaking point. There was no shortage of scattered frayed and broken wiring. Those systems that had been knocked loose seemed to be the same ones that appeared to have been overloaded and had small components on them overload and burst. Bethany guessed that with an influx of wiring being disrupted that there was a wild surging flow of electricity that wreaked havoc on them.

Still, all she needed to do was get Evie back online and ensure that her GPS alerting system was ready. Bethany was forced to pick up the mounting podium that Evie’s head was attached to and angle her so that she could see into her own open body and provide some guidance for Bethany. Sure enough, the GPS system was one of the few components that was knocked off kilter by the fall and had disconnected from the rest of Evie’s systems. A boon that both androids quickly realized. They could power on Evie and let her scramble around inside of the log files without engaging the GPS alert.

Bethany managed to find the equivalent of a reset fuse inside of Evie’s body and flipped it, returning her power source to working condition. Once it was on, Evie’s body flickered to life, and Bethany could see the myriad of flashing red lights all around her open torso. Clearly there was still a lot of distress to be had. Not to mention the immediate puffs of acrid black smoke that swirled out of her cooling fans. In that moment Bethany was thankful that she wasn’t actually able to smell anything.

Still, the two proceeded with their plan. Bethany gingerly disconnected Evie’s head from the podium, temporarily taking her offline until it was reconnected and repowered by her body. Once there she blinked and sputtered for a moment before smiling up at Bethany.

“Okay, I’ll get to work on the log files. You should proooooobably go to go to to tooooo bed go bed to go bed tooooo.” Evie muttered.

Bethany rose and nodded once, reaching into Evie’s opened body and placing the GPS unit and the power connector to it in Evie’s hands. All she needed to do was plug it in and it should restart itself and immediately send the alert.

“I’ll keep an ear out, if something goes wrong just call or something, I’ll be here for you. And if I hear the supervisors come in then I’ll know you’re in good hands.”

“We hope.” Evie managed.

Bethany nodded at that, smiled weakly at Evie, who had in this moment become a good friend. There was something to be said, even to androids, about surviving a trauma together. She retreated to her room, watching Evie as she closed the door and locked it.

Bethany settled down on her bed, unable to really shut down her systems. Instead she wandered around her room a little, freezing in place any time she heard any small noise. Was that the air conditioning system, or was it Evie falling off of the couch? Bethany considered going to check on her, but waited, finding herself slipping into her pajamas instead. As the moments agonizingly drug themselves out she did everything she could to distract herself from her friend just on the other side of the door.

One eternity of waiting later Bethany heard the unmistakable sound of someone struggling with the lock on their door. She had never been more thankful for the ancient door lock. She let out a breath of hot air that was dripping with all the anxiety processes she had been holding in her CPU. She laid herself in bed, but found that there were too many other processes running in her processor core to really engage the sleep processes. Instead she plugged herself into a power outlet to recharge and spent the rest of her evening worrying about Evie.

Bethany had peered into the living room the next morning. Evie was gone. There were no traces of her anywhere. Not a single loose fiber from her torn pants, not a scrap of frayed wiring or a loose screw that had been dislodged from inside of her. She had knocked a few times on the door to Evie’s room and was only met with silence. Bethany even went as far as to text Evie and was only met with a generic response stating that Evie was out of town visiting her family. Bethany knew that was just some kind of auto-generated failsafe. Though, it did little to put her mind at ease.

The only memento that Bethany could find that Evie had existed in the space was a small keychain, an enamel coated panda of some kind. It was her keychain. Bethany had stumbled on it when she moved the couch to do some cleaning to take her mind off of Evie and clutched it in her hands before hiding it in her pocket for safekeeping. She hoped it wouldn’t be the only reminder that Evie had been here.

That had been three days ago.

Bethany was currently sitting on the couch in their living room. Worried, for certain, but doing her best not to dwell on the fate of her friend. There was classwork scattered on the coffee table in front of her, and while she was actively doing the math problems she was really just letting her CPU run on autopilot while her higher functioning thought processes thought only of Evie.

The sound of a set of old brass keys digging into the lock on the front door tore apart everything Bethany was thinking about. Math problems stopped being a priority, so did everything else. Her head snapped to look at the door, she hoped it was Evie, but in an instant there was a creeping doubt. Maybe Evie had been disassembled. Maybe they found the modified logs and took her apart on principal. Maybe they did wipe her memory and this Evie was going to be someone different than Bethany’s Evie…

“God damn this door!” Evie’s voice blurted from just beyond the old door, and Bethany knew everything was going to be okay. She swiftly dashed to the door and unlocked it and threw it open only a moment before she pulled Evie into a tight hug.